A calm down space is exactly what it sounds like, a place to calm down. You can call it a cozy corner, safe space, anything you’d like! As long as the goal remains the same- it is a calming, relaxing, welcoming, and quiet space for kids to go to when they need a break. Kids benefit from breaks in all locations so add this space anywhere children are- your home, a classroom, even an afterschool program!
Remember, this is NOT a time-out space or to be used as punishment. You do not send kids here to be isolated, it is a safe space where kids should want to go to when BIG feelings arise. This area does not need to be complex, require a lot of space, or contain expensive materials- keep it simple! Let’s break down how you can create an age-appropriate calm down space!
Infants and Toddlers
This age benefits from a protected, quiet, soft place where they can relax. Vocabulary is limited for these littles so feelings of frustration are common, encourage use of this space when these feelings arise. Early use of a calm down space will help to instill crucial coping skills these kids can use for years to come!
- Keep it cozy! Include some cushions, soft pillows, or blankets to encourage comfort and cuddling.
- Items to include:
- Stuffed animal
- Books about feelings and emotions
- Quiet activity or two (Puzzle, Matching Game, I-Spy Book)
- Child-safe mirror
- Personal pacifier if needed
- Feelings and Emotions poster
- Coping Strategies poster
Preschoolers and Older
Older kids may need quiet time at different points throughout the day. After all, a full day of playing and learning can be stressful! Don’t forget, children learn through play, so if it appears as though your child is simply playing in this space- it’s okay! As long as kids are using the materials as they are intended, they’re learning and growing.
- Cozy but cool! Make this space feel special by adding colorful pillows and blankets or set up a children's tent for privacy.
- Items to include:
Wondering how to appropriately encourage use of a calm down space? Try this!
- “I see the corners of your mouth are turned down and your eyebrows are close together. Would you like to go to our calm down space and color a picture?
In this example, you described what you saw, gave the child a choice, and an appropriate strategy to use! And if you're an educator that's looking for a classroom example of a Calm Down Space, check this out!
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